Earlier today, April 30, 2021, the White House press secretary Jen Psaki announced that the United States will restrict travel from India starting on Tuesday, May 4, in response to the surge of coronavirus cases and variants being observed in the country. “The policy will be implemented in light of extraordinarily high COVID-19 caseloads and multiple variants circulating in India,” said Psaki. Continue Reading United States to Restrict Travel From India Amid Record Numbers of Coronavirus Infections and Fatalities
Further Changes to Right to Work Checks Effective 17 May 2021
Since 30 March 2020, due to Covid-19, the Home Office has allowed an adjustment to the normal right to work (“RTW”) check process which must be undertaken by employers if they wish to avoid any potential liability for employing an individual who does not have the appropriate immigration permission to undertake their employment in the UK. Under this adjustment, employers can check an employee’s immigration status in the UK by using scans or copies of documents instead of having to see the original documents. Alternatively, the employer can use the on-line RTW checking service if the employee has one of the following:
a. Biometric Residence Permit; or,
b. Biometric Residence Card; or,
c. status under the EU Settlement Scheme or Points Based System.
As of 17 May, this adjustment will cease and employers will once again be required to check original documents, unless they are able to use the RTW checking service. Since the on-line service can only be used to check the RTW status of migrant workers, this means that, from that date, in the majority of situations, employers will be required to physically inspect prospective employee’s original documents and carry out the check either in the presence of the employee or via a live video link. Even if they are using the on-line service, employers will still need to meet the prospective employee in person or via a live video link.
As we pass 100 days since the end of the Brexit transition period, it is time to reflect on what we have learned so far in relation to how the end of Free Movement rights has affected British citizens and UK companies operating within the European Economic Area (EEA) and EEA citizens and EEA companies operating in the UK. It is also an important time to highlight some key deadlines which are rapidly approaching.
Set out in this brochure are what we believe, from an immigration standpoint, are the top 10 lessons learned and the key things to consider as we continue to adapt to life post-Brexit.
On April 26, 2021, the Secretary of State made a national interest determination regarding categories of travelers eligible for exceptions under Presidential Proclamations (PPs) 9984, 9992, and 10143 related to the spread of COVID-19. As a result of this determination, national interest exceptions (NIEs) from the regional COVID-19 travel bans in effect for Brazil, China, Iran, and South Africa now align with those already in place for the regional bans barring travel from Ireland, the United Kingdom, and the Schengen Area. Continue Reading National Interest Exceptions to COVID-19 Travel Bans from Brazil, China, Iran and South Africa Aligned to Standards in Place for Schengen, UK, and Ireland
US Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) is issuing policy guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual instructing officers to give deference to prior determinations when adjudicating extension requests involving the same parties and facts unless there was a material error, material change, or new material facts. With this update, USCIS is reverting in substance to prior long-standing guidance issued in 2004, which directed officers to generally defer to prior determinations of eligibility when adjudicating extension requests involving the same parties and facts as the initial petition or application. In 2017, USCIS rescinded the 2004 guidance that had imposed a standard of “de novo” review for all filings, including extensions or amendments of previously-approved nonimmigrant visa petitions.
The newly-restored policy clarifies that USCIS will gives deference to its “prior determinations when adjudicating extension requests involving the same parties and facts unless there was a material error, material change in circumstances or in eligibility, or new material information that adversely impacts the petitioner’s, applicant’s, or beneficiary’s eligibility.” In cases where other government agencies have made previous eligibility determinations, USCIS will consider, but not defer, to those determinations.
The agency reports that this update is in accordance with President Biden’s executive order, Restoring Faith in Our Legal Immigration Systems and Strengthening Integration and Inclusion Efforts for New Americans, which directs the secretary of homeland security to identify barriers that impede access to immigration benefits and fair, efficient adjudications of these benefits.
India has reported the highest number of COVID-positive cases in any single day, in any country, since the pandemic. New strain variants first identified in India have also appeared in other countries. In reaction, multiple countries across the globe have announced restrictions on travel from India, and more are likely to follow in quick succession, repeating a pattern often seen during the pandemic where there have been surges in reported infections or fatalities. Canada has announced a 30-day ban on flights from India and Pakistan. The UK has banned travel from India, with limited exception for UK citizens and those with residency rights. And Singapore has banned entry by long-term pass holders and short-term visitors who have travelled to India within the past 14 days.
Business entry and visa processing continue to be frozen, even weeks after the state of emergency declaration has ended. With a rebound in COVID infections in major cities, the issuance and processing of new visas into the country will likely continue for the foreseeable future. See the current measures with respect to visa restrictions.
The Japanese Prime Minister announced that, effective April 12, Tokyo, Kyoto and Okinawa will again be subject to more restrictive COVID-19 measures. The new restrictions, which are distinct from and are less severe compared to a state of emergency, allows the Japanese government to place restrictions on designated cities and areas such as requesting that restaurants close by 8:00pm and that citizens from the specified areas refrain from traveling outside of their respective prefecture.
Effective April 1, 2021, the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has again extended its remote I-9 verification policy that defers the physical presence requirements of the employment verification process. Under a policy first introduced on March 20, 2020, the requirement that employers inspect employees’ Form I-9 identity and employment eligibility documentation in-person applies only to those employees who physically report to work at a company location on any regular, consistent, or predictable basis. If employees hired on or after April 1, 2021, work exclusively in a remote setting due to COVID-19-related precautions, they are temporarily exempt from the Form I-9 physical inspection requirements, until they undertake non-remote employment on a regular, consistent, or predictable basis, or the extension of the flexibilities related to such requirements is terminated, whichever is earlier. The DHS announcement of the extension of its remote I-9 verification policy can be found here.
March 31, 2021 marked the sunset on a presidential proclamation that suspended four visa categories of substantial importance to US employers: H-1B, L-1, H-2B, and certain J-1 visas. In effect since June 24, 2020 and initially scheduled to expire on December 31, 2020, Presidential Proclamation 10052 was extended by former president Trump through March 31, 2021 and left to expire by President Biden. President Biden’s approach to let the nonimmigrant visa ban run its course is different than his action to rescind Presidential Proclamation 10014, which suspended the issuance of new immigrant visas to applicants outside the United States. Continue Reading H-1B and L-1 Visas, Among Others, Now Available With the Expiration of Presidential Proclamation 10052
On Tuesday, March 30, 2021, US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that it received a sufficient number of H-1B registrations through its new electronic registration system needed to reach the annual cap, which includes registrations for both the 65,000 regular cap, as well as the 20,000 allotted US advanced degree exemption (or “master’s cap”).
USCIS states in its announcement that the lottery selection process is complete and that the Agency has notified all prospective petitioners if their registrations have been selected, meaning employers are eligible to file a FY2022 H-1B cap-subject petition on behalf of the employees for whom selection notices have been assigned.